Will Chen Yunlin Meet With President Ma?
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
October 29, 2008
Two major obstacles stand in the way of Chen Yunlin's visit. One. Will he apologize for the melamine contaminated milk incident? Two. Will he address Ma as Mr. President?
ARATS has already sent SEF a letter of apology for the contaminated milk incident. ARATS and the SEF have agreed to establish food safety measures. Tensions over the issue will ease. But a stickier issue remains. How will Chen Yunlin address President Ma?
When SEF and ARATS were originally created, the thinking was the two organizations would neither recognize nor repudiate the other. The two organizations would not recognize each other as belong to a nation or a government. They would instead, acting as intermediaries, refrain from repudiating each other and proceed to negotiate and resolve national and governmental matters.
This model has never led to disputes, at least until now, when Chen Yunlin is about to meet President Ma. One. When Jiang Zemin met Koo Chen-fu, or when Hu Jintao met Chiang Pin-kung, they were Party General Secretaries meeting with the Chairmen of SEF. Two. In fact, Koo Chen-fu and Chiang Pin-kung have no problem acknowledging leaders on the other side as "President." But Beijing, in order to avoid reciprocity with Taipei, does not greet visitors under the title of Secretary General. Three. In order to avoid controversy, visitors from the Mainland, including ARATS, have never set foot in ROC central government agencies or paid official visits to ROC central government officials. If Chen Yunlin meets President Ma, it will be for the first time, and he will be the first person to do so. Four. President Ma currently holds only one title -- president. Even if he were serving as party chairman, it would be inadvisable to meet Chen Yunlin in that capacity. After all, this is no longer a One Party State.
The issue has become controversial partly because of President Ma's missteps. In mid-June, the two sides announced a second Chiang/Chen Meeting, to be held in Taipei. The media immediately raised the issue of how Chen Yunlin would address President Ma. Reportedly, without going through his staffers, President Ma openly volunteered, for the first time, that Chen "can address me as Mr. Ma." Ma's remark provoked a number of reactions. One. The public had trouble accepting President Ma making concessions before negotiating. Two. The dispute has dragged on since June. During these four months, the issue has become a political football. Three. Ma's reference to "two regions" and the Green Camp's mocking reference to Ma as "Regional Governor Ma" have added fuel to the fire. Chen Yunlin's visit to President Ma has become the focus of a political struggle on the island. The two sides must use all their wisdom to deal with the problem.
This is a difficult problem for President Ma. It is also a difficult problem for Chen Yunlin. If Ma Ying-jeou is not "the Republic of China's leader," then why is Chen Yunlin meeting with him? Does it make sense for Chen to meet with Ma, but simultaneously refuse to recognize his status as "President of the Republic of China?" During Chen Yunlin's visit, the Office of the President of the Republic of China will be decked out with ROC national flags, as usual. The legislature will be in session, as usual. All levels of the court system will render legal judgments, as usual. Schools will teach, as usual. Opposition parties will hold protests everywhere, as usual. The Republic of China will not undergo any changes because of Chen Yunlin's visit. The public on Taiwan will naturally ask, why can't Chen Yunlin address Ma as President Ma? This is no longer a problem that can be solved by intermediaries such as SEF and ARATS.
There are two ways to approach this issue. One. President Ma can meet Chen Yunlin in his capacity as president. The Taiwan authorities' press releases will state that "President Ma met with Chen Yunlin." As long as Beijing does not protest, this may be regarded as significant progress in cross-strait relations. Two. How Chen Yunlin addresses Ma must be clearly determined. If Taipei and Beijing insist on their own positions, they may as well not meet.
It hinges upon Beijing's forbearance and vision. Seven months have passed since the March 22 presidential election. The cross-Strait climate has undergone dramatic, earth-shaking changes. Zhang Mingqing was recently assaulted. Beijing bit its tongue. The contaminated milk scandal erupted. Beijing offered a letter of apology. All of Beijing's actions reveal a desire not to undermine cross-Strait relations or the Chiang/Chen Meeting. Beijing's forbearance is not merely a display of short term self-control. Beijing is now aware of how difficult it is to maintain cross-Strait relations. The authorities on both sides agree on the general direction. Therefore the issue of how Chen Yunlin should address Ma YIng-jeou must not be allowed to undermine this agreement.
Beijing's thinking on Taiwan has changed. It has changed from "The Republic of China is dead!" to "We must maintain the status quo" and "We subscribe to the 1992 Consensus." The subtext of the 1992 Consensus is "One China, Different Interpretations." Beijing must realize that without the "Republic of China" the two sides cannot achieve win-win. Chen Yunlin need not meet with President Ma. But he must not hurt the feelings of the public on Taiwan.
Will the two sides use their heads and solve these problems? We will have to wait and see.
2008.10.29 02:59 am
這 個模式，在陳雲林會見馬總統以前，不生爭議：一、江澤民見辜振甫，或胡錦濤見江丙坤，皆是以黨總書記的身分接見海基會董事長。二、其實，辜振甫與江丙坤亦 可「承認」對方的「國家主席」之身分；但北京為免台北要求「對等」，不以國家主席身分會客。三、向來，對岸包括海協會來台訪客，皆不入我方政府機構且未正 式拜會中央政府官員，故未生爭議；陳雲林若見馬總統，則為第一次、第一人。四、但是，馬總統只有總統一個職銜，即使兼黨主席，亦不宜以黨主席身分接見，因 為畢竟已非黨國一體。
此事演成今日如此尖銳的局面，部分原因是馬總統操作的錯失所致。六月中旬，兩岸宣布第二次「江陳會」將在台北舉行， 媒體立即提出陳雲林將如何稱呼馬總統的問題；詎料，可能完全未經幕僚論證的過程，馬總統幾乎在第一時間就主動公開表示「可以稱呼我馬先生」。此說引發的效 應是：一、國人不能接受馬總統未經任何折衝過程即作此退讓；二、此一爭議自六月擾攘至今，歷時四個多月，已經發酵成一個相當難解的民粹難題；三、「兩區 論」與「馬區長」成為話柄，更是火上加油。既然陳雲林見馬總統的稱謂已成為島內政治鬥爭的焦點，以「兩岸的聰明才智」（高孔廉語），難道還能不慎重應對處 理？
這是馬總統的難題，其實亦是陳雲林的難題。因為，倘若馬英九不是「台灣領導人」，陳雲林為何見他？見了他，卻不承認其「中華民國總 統」的身分，豈是「名正言順」？陳雲林到訪之日，中華民國總統府上掛著青天白日滿地紅的國旗，國會立法院正常運作，各級法院照常審判，學校如常教學，反對 黨也正在四處抗議示威；既然中華民國並未因陳雲林來訪而有任何改變，台灣人民自然要問：為何陳雲林見了馬總統不能稱總統？這已不是兩會的「白手套體制」可 解答的問題。
這 就要看北京方面當局的氣度及瞻矚如何了。兩岸氛圍，自三二二總統大選至今，僅七個多月，但其間之詭譎變化，猶如翻天覆地。最近，張銘清被毆事件，北京打脫 牙和血吞；毒奶粉事件，亦已修函致歉；一切作為，皆指向「不影響兩岸關係」、「不影響江陳會」；而這些表現也不僅是一時的隱忍自制而已，而應是已經警覺兩 岸關係的維持不易。兩岸當局既皆以大方向及大局為念，似乎亦不應使陳雲林的稱呼問題，傷害了大方向及大局。